‘Just change something’: KTOO’s latest quarterly source diversity report

Capital City firefighters Cat Pearson, Jannelle Pine, and Sadie Inman in hazmat gear. The three women are part of Juneau’s all-female team of first responders. (photo courtesy of Sadie Inman, CCFR)

In the summer of 2019, KTOO commissioned a source audit or a report on the demographics of the people we talk to for KTOO news stories and the guests we have on Juneau Afternoon.

Last October, we started asking everyone who appeared in a news story or was a guest on Juneau Afternoon to identify their gender and race and/or ethnicity.

Here’s what our first report in late 2019 revealed about who we’ve been interviewing. And here’s what 2020 has looked like so far: first quarter (January – March) and second quarter (April – June).

We’ve just finished compiling our third-quarter report, which includes reporting from our “new normal” pandemic life and the ramp-up to the 2020 election.

For the period from July 1 through September 30, 2020:

  • There were 404 total sources
  • 265 appeared in news stories
  • 125 appeared on Juneau Afternoon
  • 82% of sources self-identified their gender
  • 74% of sources self-identified their race and/or ethnicity

 

Gender

We did it! We reached gender equality. Well, not really, but our sources were split evenly between men and women for the first time since we started keeping track.

Look at the difference between news sources and Juneau Afternoon guests. This quarter is actually the best showing we’ve had for female sources in news stories: that 43% has been more like one-third in previous reports. And of the Juneau Afternoon who responded to the question, a whopping 80% were women.

chart showing the gender breakdown of KTOO sources for 2020 Q3

We always look at subject matter expertise at this point because it helps clarify some of the gender numbers. Half of Juneau Afternoon guests for the quarter were non-expert members of the general public. This means they weren’t representing an organization or promoting an event. They are just normal people talking on our daily community program about their lives. But given that, it is puzzling to me that 80% of the show’s guests were women.

Considering that this period includes the months leading up to a big deal general election, I’m pleased to see that only 5% of our news sources were politicians or political candidates. There’s still a strong tendency to talk to government and elected officials, but there’s still a nice mix of expert and non-expert voices in a variety of fields represented here.

chart showing the subject matter expertise of KTOO sources for 2020 Q3

Race & Ethnicity

In general, the number of our sources who identify as white-only has stayed the same since we started tracking over a year ago, ranging from 75% – 84%.

The real development this quarter was the addition of Juneau Afternoon hosts from the Black Awareness Association of Juneau. They’ve been running the show on Thursdays for a few months and that’s really increased the representation of Black voices on the program.

Across all of our programs and stories, there is still very little in the way of Asian, Hispanic/Latinx and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander voices.

chart showing the race and ethnicity of KTOO sources for 2020 Q3

One thing we always look at when we look at the racial and ethnic makeup of our sources is the focus of the story. The mix changes when the story or program has a focus on race.

Stories that are not about race always feature the most white-only voices and we start to see Black and Indigenous sources appear in stronger numbers when the story addresses race or is about race. While this is one way to get more diverse voices on the air, it’s a very limited way of changing the overall inclusivity of our stories.

chart showing the race and ethnicity of KTOO sources broken down by story focus

What’s next?

In addition to sharing all this information with you, our audience, every quarter, we also dive into it as a team. It has not been easy to set goals around our source diversity, but it is easy to see that there’s so much incentive here to try and do things differently. And as NPR’s Chief Diversity Officer Keith Woods, who has been guiding us through some of this work says, “just change something.” It doesn’t matter what. The possibilities are endless and there’s a big ol’ world out there of voices in our community that deserve to and demand to be heard.

Here are a few examples of thoughtful, inclusive sourcing:

  • There were only two women on Juneau’s COVID-19 Conservation Corp working at Eaglecrest this summer and Adelyn Baxter made sure to talk to one of them for this story
  • Talking to teachers and parents of school-aged kids is one way to make sure we’re hearing from women in our community.
  • Pablo Arauz Peña highlighted the artwork on Juneau’s new ambulance and included interviews with the female Tlingit artists behind the design.
  • Rashah McChesney knew there would be plenty of women at the Ruth Bader Ginsburg vigil in Juneau and was able to interview a mother and daughter for this story.
  • In August, KTOO partnered with the Black Awareness Association of Juneau to help us host and source Juneau Afternoon a few programs each month. You can find these rich discussions on the program page. 
  • In July, Sheli Delaney profiled Juneau’s all-female team of first-responders.
  • Rashah McChesney interviewed photographer Brian Wallace, who is Tlingit, for an hour-long special on Juneau Afternoon.
  • Scott Burton had Haines-based Henry Nalimu Leasia, who is Pacific Islander, on Juneau Afternoon to play live music and talk about his new album.
  • In August KTOO aired the fourth episode of Lingít Aaní Káa Kei Nas.áx̱ Haa Yoo X̱’atángi (Our Language Is Sounding Off on Tlingit Land), a show and associated language lessons that seek to open the radio waves to Tlingit-language use and normalization